Movie Reviews

Napoleon Dynamite (12/21/2004)


Rated PG

Directed by Jared Hess

Starring Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, and Efren Ramirez

I had heard the hype about this bizarre looking film called “Napoleon Dynamite.” I saw the preview and laughed; I don’t know why, but I did.

Then I saw Jon Heder (Napoleon) appear on the Teen Choice awards and challenge Nicole Richie to a game of tetherball.

I was sold.

It’s hard to describe “Napoleon Dynamite.” Weird? Yes. A fine piece of cinematography? No, and it didn’t try to be. Funny? Yes. “Napoleon Dynamite is one of those films that you’ll be quoting 5 days after you see it.

The movie is the story of a geeky high school kid living with Grandma along with his thirty something brother Kip. Napoleon befriends the new kid at school, Pedro, a Mexican nerd, and they both seek a date for the high school dance. The movie simply follows the life of these nerds as they go to school, try to get dates, and deal with family problems. Does it sound boring? It does to me? But it’s not. It will have you scratching your head asking yourself why you’re laughing at a bunch of nerds.

This is not another cheesy “Revenge of the Nerds” . . . in other words, a lame excuse to show 25 year old girls playing high school kids who can’t wait to get naked. “Napoleon” is a creative, realistic, and yes—bizarre peek into the life of a nerd that probably lives around the corner from you.

SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
It’s not made for young kids, but anyone from about 5th grade and up will find it amusing. The film has no sex, nudity or crude jokes (other than Napoleon’s uncle handing out flyers for breast enhancement supplements). The cuss words max out at “crap” or “oh my God.” In other words, “Napoleon” is tame compared to most prime time TV.

BOTTOM LINE:
If you don’t like weird or silly, you might want to wait till this hits Blockbuster. But I think it’s worth the theatre experience. The film has actually stayed in the theatre so long that you’ll find groups of people quoting lines throughout the film—quite a lot of audience reaction. A lot of new “Napoleon” fans out there. You might be the next one. (Just don’t do the hair!)

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):


  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

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Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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